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Ruggiero Rallies For 2nd Straight Eastern States Sportsman Victory

Mike Ruggiero
Mike Ruggiero - Bob Armbruster Photo

Middletown, NYOctober 18, 2008 – By Tom Skibinski, DIRTcar Racing NorthEast PR Director

Following in the tire tracks of 358-Modified winner Brett Hearn on Saturday of Eastern States Weekend at Orange County Fair Speedway, Mike Ruggiero scored his second straight Mr. DIRTcar Sportsman win in the 2008 track finale that covered 50 laps around the ‘Hard Clay’ oval.

Unlike last year when the Walden, New York pilot set fast time and led the entire distance to earn the biggest payday of his career, Ruggiero needed 39 laps to make his way to the front and forge the final lead change with near race-long front-runner Rich Coons en route to the convincing win.

“This one feels four thousand times better than anything,” remarked an elated Ruggiero, after becoming just the second driver since the ESW Sportsman event originated in 1988 to capture back-to-back titles. Tom Hall won in 1996-97 while current Big-Block pilots Tim Hindley and Chris Shultz also won two main events but not in consecutive years.

“Last year was awesome to get the first one, we got the pole, got everything. Today we stepped on it a little bit, qualified seventh and ran the heat. I knew the car was good and she came in a hurry,” said Ruggiero, who was crowned Orange County’s Sportsman division champion in September.

Port Colborne, Ontario invader Greg Panunte out-dragged fast time trailer and pole-sitter Rich Coons to set the early pace as the 50-lap feature took it’s first green flag under the lights. Fellow Canadian Justin Sharp slammed the wall exiting turn two to require a rare red flag and on the lap four restart Coons returned to the point as he charged around Panunte in the first corner.

Ruggiero was scored in the front-five after 10 laps with Coons pulling away from Panunte while 14 year-old Anthony Perrego ran third in the biggest race of his budding career. Ruggiero then ducked under Jimmy Spellmon for fourth and when Coons picked up the $300 bonus posted by Murphy’s Speed & Custom for leading at the halfway mark (lap 25), Ruggiero had improved one more position with his no. 4 Galati Home Improvements/TEO entry getting faster as the laps clicked off.

Panunte was the next to fall behind Ruggiero on lap 27, and a handful of laps later he was shadowing the leader with just 15 more to go. Ruggiero took the low line entering turn one and by the time he reached the second corner he had moved past Coons and just a dozen laps later was celebrating his fifth feature wi of the year in Middletown.

“I’ve raced with Richie for awhile now and I knew I couldn’t just show my nose and not get by him,” Ruggiero said. “So I had to do it that lap, that second or maybe not have the chance again. I was happy the lapped cars kinda got out of the way a little bit. Thank God for that (last) caution so we got some clean track ahead.”

“I wasn’t too convinced about these crate motors before we switched over. I have to thank Matt Hitchcock for getting me this motor and letting me use it. They’re definitely good,” Hitchcock pointed out.

Chasing Ruggiero across the line to end day #2 of the 47th Annual Eastern States Weekend at Orange County were Coons, Panunte, Bobby Hentschel and Jimmy Spellmon.

Eastern States Weekend activity continues on Sunday with a full program of DIRTcar UMP Pro Stock action, DIRTcar Big-Block Modified consolation round qualifiers and the 47th running of the Eastern States 200 Modified Championship finale. Pit gates and grandstands are slated to open at 8 am followed by the popular Race Against Drugs Pit Party that runs on the front stretch from 9:30-10:30 am.

Mr. DIRTcar Sportsman Series Race #15 – Orange County Fair Speedway, October 18, 2008 Eastern States 50 Championship Event Summary
FEATURE
FIN STR CAR# DRIVER/HOMETOWN
1 7 4r Mike Ruggiero/Walden,NY
2 1 27 Rich Coons/Montgomery,NY
3 2 99p Greg Panunte/Port Colborne,ONT
4 6 4SL Bob Hentschel/Pine Bush,NY
5 3 1s Jimmy Spellmon/Butler,NJ
6 9 73 John Lieto/Mt.Kisco,NY
7 13 3 Erik Holmgren/Middletown,NY
8 14 14 Jeremy Pitcher/Fulton,NY
9 23 17t Todd Town/Jordan,NY
10 4 18 Anthony Perrego/Montgomery,NY
11 5 27v Frank Venezia/Fairfield,NJ
12 8 52 James Friesen/St.Catharines,ONT
13 17 98 Kevin Ward/Hyde Park,NY
14 11 33 Matt Hitchcock/Stony Point,NY
15 10 51 Cody McPherson/St.Catharines,ONT
16 18 55 Matt Hulsizer/Bridgeport,NY
17 21 7 Kyle Cicio/Wantage,NJ
18 30 19w Justin Wright/Piffard,NY
19 24 50x Sam Dwy/Pawling,NY
20 26 08 Mark D’Ilario/Smithville,ONT
21 29 6cv C.V. Elms/North Haverhill,NH
22 27 44x Shane Jablonka/Stanfordville,NY
23 22 6 Mat Williamson/St.Catharines,ONT
24 28 72 Ray Woodall Jr./Easton,PA
25 19 85 John Pietrowicz/Phoenix,NY
26 12 01 Chris Raabe/Napanee,ONT
27 16 17m Mark Olmstead Jr./Elbridge,NY
28 20 777 Tyler McPherson/St.Catharines,ONT
29 15 37j Matt Janiak/Warwick,NY
30 25 8s Justin Sharp/St.Catharines,ONT
EVENT SUMMARY:
LAP LEADERS: Panunte (1-3), Coons (4-38), Ruggiero (39-50).
CAUTIONS: 6 (lap 5, lap 17, lap 43, lap 43, lap 45, lap 46); 1 RED FLAG (lap 3).
MURPHY’S SPEED & CUSTOM HALFWAY LEADER ($300): Rich Coons.
HOLLEY HARD LUCK: Chris Raabe.
HEAT WINNERS: Ruggiero, Friesen, Lieto, C.McPherson, Hitchcock.
CONSI WINNERS: Williamson, Town.
POLE WINNER: Rich Coons (22.574sec/99.672mph).
OUTSIDE-POLE WINNER: Greg Panunte (22.615sec/99.491mph).
CARS ENTERED: 57.

QUALIFYING
TIME TRIALS

FAST AVE
TIME MPH CAR# DRIVER
1 22.574 99.672 27 Rich Coons/Montgomery,NY
$125 – Pole Award
2 22.615 99.491 99p Greg Panunte/Port Colborne,ONT
$75 – Outside Pole Award
3 22.702 99.110 1s Jimmy Spellmon/Butler,NJ
4 22.708 99.084 18 Anthony Perrego/Montgomery,NY
5 22.757 98.871 27v Frank Venezia/Fairfield,NJ
6 22.763 98.845 4SL Bob Hentschel/Pine Bush,NY
7 22.843 98.498 4r Mike Ruggiero/Walden,NY
8 22.864 98.408 52 James Friesen/St.Catharines,ONT
9 22.874 98.365 73 John Lieto/Mt.Kisco,NY
10 22.907 98.223 37j Matt Janiak/Warwick,NY
11 22.934 98.108 33 Matt Hitchcock/Stony Point,NY
12 22.987 97.881 01 Chris Raabe/Napanee,ONT
13 23.029 97.703 3 Erik Holmgren/Middletown,NY
14 23.112 97.352 14 Jeremy Pitcher/Fulton,NY
15 23.126 97.293 51 Cody McPherson/St.Catharines,ONT
16 23.141 97.230 7 Kyle Cicio/Wantage,NJ
17 23.145 97.213 98 Kevin Ward/Hyde Park,NY
18 23.150 97.192 2x Ed Burgess/Wallkill,NY
23.150 97.192 55 Matt Hulsizer/Bridgeport,NY
20 23.158 97.159 777 Tyler McPherson/St.Catharines,ONT
21 23.184 97.050 17m Mark Olmstead Jr./Elbridge,NY
22 23.193 97.012 424 Jake Schlagel/Wanaque,NJ
23 23.202 96.974 17t Todd Town/Jordan,NY
24 23.212 96.933 6 Mat Williamson/St.Catharines,ONT
25 23.243 96.803 8s Justin Sharp/St.Catharines,ONT
26 23.274 96.674 38 John Aumick/Highland Lakes,NJ
27 23.293 96.596 50x Sam Dwy/Pawling,NY
28 23.321 96.480 08 Mark D’Ilario/Smithville,ONT
23.321 96.480 13 Al Archiere/Newtown,CT
30 23.343 96.389 11 Ben Wheeler/Genoa,NY
31 23.360 96.318 7L Mel Lewis/Maybrook,NY
32 23.394 96.179 111 Art Liedl/Flemington,NJ
33 23.396 96.170 88 Dion Naples/Bloomingdale,NJ
34 23.437 96.002 72 Ray Woodall Jr./Easton,PA
23.437 96.002 85 John Pietrowicz/Phoenix,NY
36 23.441 95.986 97 Steve Savoie/Acton Vale,QUE
37 23.453 95.937 44x Shane Jablonka/Stanfordville,NY
38 23.470 95.867 12k Kenny Hinsch/Pleasant Valley,NY
39 23.477 95.838 6cv C.V. Elms/North Haverhill,NH
40 23.511 95.700 69k Ken Boniface/Pine Bush,NY
41 23.520 95.663 1 John Odendahl/Pine Bush,NY
42 23.587 95.392 h2o Danny Hedges/Harriman,NY
43 23.627 95.230 19w Justin Wright/Piffard,NY
44 23.635 95.198 706 Mark Sasso/Highland Lakes,NJ
45 23.682 95.009 17f Alan Fink/Pennellville,NY
46 23.717 94.869 12 Dave Hinsch/Pleasant Valley,NY
47 23.819 94.462 213 Mike VanTassel/Hamburg,NJ
48 23.889 94.186 69 Tyler Boniface/Pine Bush,NY
49 23.921 94.060 93b Brian Papiez/Bellemead,NJ
50 24.514 91.784 93j Randy Davis/Voorheesville,NY
51 24.532 91.717 1a John Alimurat/Haskell,NJ
52 24.802 90.718 44 Tony Suozzo/New Paltz,NY
53 25.152 89.456 12x A.J. Williams/Port Jervis,NY
54 25.395 88.600 17 Marcus Dinkins/Watkins Glen,NY
55 -NT- —– 17k Brian Krummel/Middletown,NY
56 -NT- —– j73 Joe Conklin/Warwick,NY
57 -NT- —– 827 John Harnage/Smithtown,NY
*Top-6 locked into feature race starting positions.
– 57 Entries.
Heat Races (8 laps, top-3 transferred to feature)
#1: Ruggiero, Raabe, Ward, Dwy, Jablonka, Hedges, Liedl, VanTassel, Suozzo, Schlagel.
#2: Friesen, Holmgren, Hulsizer, Town, D’Ilario, Naples, Wright, K.Hinsch, T.Boniface, Williams.
#3: Lieto, Pitcher, Pietrowicz, Williamson, Elms, Papiez, Sasso, Burgess, Archiere, Dinkins.
#4: C.McPherson, Janiak, T.McPherson, Sharp, Woodall, Wheeler, Fink, K.Boniface, Davis.
#5: Hitchcock, Olmstead, Cicio, Lewis, Odendahl, Conklin, D.Hinsch, Savoie, Aumick, Krummel, Alimurat (DNS).
Consolation Round (8 laps, top 4 finishers transferred to feature)
#1: Williamson, Dwy, D’Ilario, Woodall, Fink, Hedges, VanTassel, Conklin, Wright, Savoie, T.Boniface, Dinkins, Lewis, Papiez, Burgess, Davis (DNS), Schlagel (DNS).
#2: Town, Sharp, Jablonka, Elms, Liedl, Wheeler, Williams, Suozzo, Alimurat, K.Boniface, Naples, Sasso, Odendahl, D.Hibsch, K.Hinsch, Archiere (DNS), Aumick (DNS), Krummel (DNS).
Guaranteed: Wright.
DID NOT QUALIFY (27)
1-John Odendahl/Pine Bush,NY
1a-John Alimurat/Haskell,NJ
2x-Ed Burgess/Wallkill,NY
h2o-Danny Hedges/Harriman,NY
7L-Mel Lewis/Maybrook,NY
11-Ben Wheeler/Genoa,NY
12-Dave Hinsch/Pleasant Valley,NY
12k-Kenny Hinsch/Pleasant Valley,NY
12x-A.J. Williams/Port Jervis,NY
13-Al Archiere/Newtown,CT
17-Marcus Dinkins/Watkins Glen,NY
17f-Alan Fink/Pennellville,NY
17k-Brian Krummel/Middletown,NY
38-John Aumick/Highland Lakes,NJ
44-Tony Suozzo/New Paltz,NY
69-Tyler Boniface/Pine Bush,NY
69k-Ken Boniface/Pine Bush,NY
j73-Joe Conklin/Warwick,NY
88-Dion Naples/Bloomingdale,NJ
93b-Brian Papiez/Bellemead,NJ
93j-Randy Davis/Voorheesville,NY
97-Steve Savoie/Acton Vale,QUE
111-Art Liedl/Flemington,NJ
213-Mike VanTassel/Hamburg,NJ
424-Jake Schlagel/Wanaque,NJ
706-Mark Sasso/Highland Lakes,NJ
827-John Harnage/Smithtown,NY

Mr. DIRTcar Sportsman Series Point Standings (Through Oct. 18, 2008)
Rank No Driver Total Series Bonus Diff Wins T-5 T-10 Sts
1 01 Chris Raabe 1,304 1,004 300 0 1 7 9 14
2 99p Greg Panunte1,258 978 280 -46 2 4 7 15
3 08 Mark D’Ilario 1,232 984 248 -72 1 7 8 15
4 14 Jeremy Pitcher 1,188 904 284 -116 0 2 8 14
5 777 Tyl. McPherson1,158 880 278 -146 0 2 6 15
6 6 Mat Williamson 1,153 897 256 -151 0 3 6 15
7 85 John Pietrowicz1,148 866 282 -156 0 2 6 15
8 71 Mike Bowman 1,106 822 284 -198 0 3 6 13
9 19w Justin Wright 1,091 817 274 -213 0 1 2 15
10 52 James Friesen 1,061 769 292 -243 0 3 4 11
11 67g Eric Giguere 1,051 781 270 -253 0 3 5 14
12 66 Dan Wiesner 1,019 739 280 -285 1 5 6 12
13 20x Kevin Ridley 753 475 278 -551 1 2 4 8
14 10 Tim Currier 753 485 268 -551 0 0 0 10
15 17T Todd Town 739 495 244 -565 1 2 6 8
16 29g Steve Gray 738 454 284 -566 1 2 3 7
17 12 Chad Chevalier 728 464 264 -576 0 0 3 9
18 24 Brandon Sweet 722 430 292 -582 0 0 2 5
19 M1 Dave Marcuccilli®708 436 272 -596 0 1 1 7
20 2x Rob Knapp 703 445 258 -601 0 0 1 9
21 17k Sam Reakes IV 698 418 280 -606 0 3 4 7
22 4 Daryl Hilkert 660 406 254 -644 0 0 0 7
23 18R Brad Rouse 630 340 290 -674 1 1 3 4
24 33 Mike Ruggiero 617 325 292 -687 2 2 2 4
25 26h Luke Carleton 602 358 244 -702 0 0 0 8
26 2L Loren Lincoln 598 356 242 -706 0 2 3 7
27 17 Marcus Dinkins 589 337 252 -715 0 1 2 3
28 38 Ryan Susice 560 300 260 -744 0 0 2 5
29 74 Matt Billings® 550 280 270 -754 0 0 0 3
30 140 Mark Dixon 531 351 180 -773 0 0 1 8
31 18h Todd Henderson 523 223 300 -781 0 0 0 3
32 21JJ Jimmy Johnstone521 281 240 -783 0 0 2 5
33 vs1 Jim Spano 518 262 256 -786 0 1 2 5
34 5 Don Spatorico 516 232 284 -788 0 1 2 3
35 17d Tom Juhl 507 235 272 -797 0 0 1 4
36 8s Justin Sharp 500 226 274 -804 0 0 0 5
37 06 Jordan Bennett 493 225 268 -811 0 0 1 5
38 0 Jipp Ortiz 475 205 270 -829 0 1 2 3
39 2K Chris Hile 475 225 250 -829 1 1 1 4
40 51x Cody McPherson471 300 171 -833 0 0 0 3
41 55 Matt Hulsizer 454 208 246 -850 0 1 1 3
42 06 Brandon Easey 454 184 270 -850 0 0 2 3
43 38w Luke Whitteker® 449 197 252 -855 0 0 1 4
44 70 Brady Fultz 447 151 296 -857 0 0 1 3
45 3k A.J. Kingley 442 180 262 -862 0 0 0 4
46 25g Nick Guererri 412 132 280 -892 0 0 1 3
47 33K Matt Hitchcock 406 162 244 -898 0 0 0 1
48 83x Tim Sears Jr.® 402 160 242 -902 0 0 0 3
49 99c Nick Cupolo 390 136 254 -914 0 1 1 2
50 62 Rick Bellante 388 198 190 -916 0 0 0 4

FINAL EVENT:
The 19th Mr. DIRTcar Sportsman Championship Series comes to a close on Saturday, October 25 as Can-Am Motorsports Park hosts the F.X. Caprara Car Companies 30. A finish of 13th or better at Can-Am locks up the coveted Mr. DIRTcar title for teenager Chris Raabe, yet if points runner-up Greg Panunte wins at Can-Am and Raabe is forced to settle for 14th-place then Panunte would steal away the trophy by two markers.

2008 Mr. DIRTcar Sportsman Championship Series Schedule
*All events subject to change.
DAY-DATE LAPS TRACK LOCATION/WINNER
Sat-Apr 5 50 Black Rock Speedway Larry Wight
Mon-May 26 30 Rolling Wheels Raceway Dan Wiesner
Thr-Jul 3 20 Rolling Wheels Raceway Mark D’Ilario
Thr-Jul 3 20 Rolling Wheels Raceway Todd Town
Fri-Jul 4 30 Brewerton Speedway Chris Hile
Thr-Jul 10 30 Brockville Ont. Speedway Chris Raabe
Mon-Sep 1 30 Rolling Wheels Raceway Mike Ruggiero
Sat-Sep 6 50 Merrittville Speedway Brad Rouse
Fri-Sep 12 50 Ransomville Speedway Rain-Cancelled
Sat-Sep 13 30 Genesee Speedway Rain-Cancelled
Fri-Sep 19 50 Humberstone Speedway Greg Panunte
Sat-Sep 20 45 Canandaigua Speedway Kevin Ridley
Sat-Sep 27 30 Rolling Wheels Raceway Greg Panunte
Fri-Oct 4 30 Fulton Speedway Jeremy Wilder
Fri-Oct 10 30 Rolling Wheels Raceway Steve Gray
Sat-Oct 11 30 New York State Fairgrounds Erick Rudolph
Sat-Oct 18 50 Orange Co. Fair Speedway
Sat-Oct 25 30 Can-Am Motorsports Park LaFargeville,NY

2008 EASTERN STATES WEEKEND EVENTS SCHEDULE
*All times/events subject to change.
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 19
Pit Gates & Grandstand Gates open, 8:00 am;
Race Against Drugs Eastern States Pit Party, 9:30-10:30 am;
Pro Stock Hot Laps, 11:00 am;
Big-Block Modified Hot Laps;
Pro Stock heat races, 12noon;
Big-Block Modified consolation races-2 (8 more qualify), 12:30 pm;
Pro Stock consolation race, 12:50 pm
Big-Block Modified consolation races-2 (8 more qualify), 1:00 pm;
Eastern States 25, Mr. DIRTcar Pro Stock Championship Series event, 1:30 pm;
47th Eastern States 200, Advance Auto Parts Super DIRTcar Series event (44 cars to start), 2:30 pm.

Headquartered in Roanoke, Va., Advance Auto Parts, a leading automotive aftermarket retailer of parts, accessories, batteries, and maintenance items in the United States, serves both the do-it-yourself and professional installer markets As of April 19, 2008, the Company operated 3,291 stores in 40 states, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. Additional information about the Company, employment opportunities, customer services, and on-line shopping for parts and accessories can be found on the Company’s web site at www.advanceautoparts.com.